....over to you Rupert...
I must admit that I didn't really have any expectations, but certainly didn't expect the rich motorcycling culture that is on full display on Sunday nights in Dili. We were quietly relaxing on the upper floor of a bar overlooking the foreshore, when we were startled by the BRAAAAAP! of a gang of de-restricted two strokes cutting through the warm evening breeze. It was only when we were back the following Sunday that we realised that this was a regular, family friendly event. Luckily there was just enough light remaining to get some photos. It was noisy, a bit chaotic, and the photos aren't perfect but hopefully they give you a feel for it all.
One typical example of the offending two-strokes.
Apart from small two-stroke road bikes (with all exhaust baffles removed), the other main steed of choice seemed to be scooters. However, due to the stigma associated with your regular, run-of-the-mill scooter, some fettling was obviously required to ensure that your scooter was not tarnished by the same boring brush. This usually involved:
- removal of plastic bodywork to expose the mighty engine;
- said engine would then require enhancement with gold engine covers;
- custom seat cover showing off the brand/club of your choice;
- low profile tyres - normally associated with performance cars, the difference being that these are also preferred to be as narrow as possible to reduce rolling friction;
- finally, the overall attention to minor details seemed to be important, not forgetting subtle matching in clothing!
Approaching the point of no return.
There were also some older bikes in attendance.
What better way to impress that special girl?
These two made quite an entrance on the scene.
Note the weight saving - unnecessary headlight and helmet have been removed.
I must admit I was heartened by the immense pride these fellas obviously held for their small machines, particularly the innovative use of their limited resources for some personalised two-wheeled expression. Despite the dusty streets and trucks which immediately spoiled any paintwork or polished rim, any water source was often occupied by someone washing their pride and joy (including cars - especially taxis!) Perhaps these interests are an indication of a growing working class in Dili.
Any-hoo, after watching all the bikes in Dili we were excited to get some bikes of our own and explore some of the rest of the country. We decided on the 1200GS of Timor - the massive 160cc Honda Megapro. These proved to be perfect for the roads (or sometimes lack thereof), although the road tyres made it pretty interesting through the wet/muddy areas!
Inevitably ended up with a flat tyre in probably the most remote/inaccessible part of the trip. Luckily the only other people there had a bicycle pump which got us to the nearest mechanic.
Once again the common themes of pride, skill and innovation with limited resources were shown by the friendly (and cheap!) mechanics. What do you think about their method of tube repair in the background?
Want to see more East Timor photos, check out these posts